Hi Everyone, and WELCOME to The Writing Fairy website. I'm Dorothea Helms, freelance writer, poet, book author, fiction dabbler, writing instructor, keynote speaker, humorist, wife, mother and slave to my English Bulldog, Margaret. My website is undergoing a facelift, boob lift, liposuction, weight loss program ... wait a minute - those are things I need personally. Sheesh. But my website IS in transition after being neglected for a LONG time. My goal is to inspire writers; my method humour (or humor in the U.S.). Enjoy!

Coaxing closet writers to emerge and make their magic known!

The following column appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of WCDR’s newsletter, Word Weaver.

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

Winning writing contests is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced during my career. In addition to validation for my writing from an objective source, the wins have brought money, plaques, prizes and prestige. Contest wins listed on a writer’s CV also add credibility.

I don’t know of a magic formula for winning (even though I’m The Writing Fairy), but I do have some tips I’d like to share on how to increase your chances.

  1. Come up with a creative way to approach the contest topic.
  2. Follow the rules.
  3. Write with abandon, polish your writing with care.
  4. Follow the rules.
  5. Enter
  6. Follow the rules.

Sound simplistic? For years, I have served as a writing contest judge from local to national levels, and I have run several contests myself. I’m always astounded at the number of entrants who neglect the rules.

If the maximum word count is 2,500 and your entry is 3,000, it will be eliminated before it’s even read. I’ve had to axe entries for being over the word count many times. If the rules stipulate that the piece has to be original and unpublished, make sure it is. Nowadays it’s easy to do a Google search for one of the sentences and find out if it’s on a website somewhere. I’ve done that and found published work that has been entered as unpublished. And if there is an entry fee, remember to include your payment.

The best way to make sure you follow the rules is to READ THEM. In one of my Writing Fairy contests, after I published the names of the 10 finalists, one of them contacted me to say he had just read the rules, and that his entry had been published in a major US newspaper. I had to eliminate his piece, and it took time and effort to figure out who was next in line to take his spot in the top ten.

When it comes to increasing your chances of winning writing contests, the only thing worse than not following the rules is not entering. If you read winning contest entries and think, I can do better than that, then do better than that and send it in. You’ll find a fabulous list of writing contests on the WCDR website. Get on your butt and give it a whirl.

Oh, and did I mention Follow the Rules?

The following appeared in the July/August issue of WCDR’s Word Weaver

The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

I’ve started reading Life of Pi three times over the past year. Each time, I didn’t get past page 50. I did the same with Eat, Pray, Love. These are books that have earned acclaim in the literary world and came highly recommended to me, and yet neither compelled me to keep reading.

Last week, I picked up Eat, Pray, Love again. I stretched out on the sofa on our back deck, felt the rays of the sun caress my ankles, and held up the book against the backdrop of lush green trees with rich blue sky peeking out from between the leaves. And I read … and read .. and read … and LOVED it.

How can I start a book, find it boring, and then start it again months later and have the opposite reaction?

A few years ago, I read a magazine interview article featuring Margaret Atwood. She offered one of the best bits of advice for writers that I have ever across. She said that writers shouldn’t worry about the reader. I was stunned. NOT worry about the reader? Aren’t we encouraged by publishers and editors and agents to do just that? To mould our stories and writing to appeal to the appropriate markets?

She pointed out that writers cannot control the preferences, level of education, background, physical condition, mood, etc. of whoever picks up our books at any given time. She suggested being true to your story and your characters and allowing the book to stand on its own.

Reminds me of the advice that best-selling author Nicholas Boothman gave me when I decided to start The Writing Fairy business. I told him I was concerned that people would think my business was for kids, and that some might assign negative connotations to the word “Fairy.” He said, “Dorothea, the people who get it, get it. The others will find another voice that speaks to them.”

I’m glad Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t agonize over me when she wrote her book. And I imagine Yann Martel isn’t losing sleep over the fact that I haven’t read his novel from cover to cover yet.

The sun is shining and I can hear a slight breeze jostling the leaves on the trees in my backyard. My deck is beckoning. Think I’ll pick up Life of Pi and see what happens.



Let The Writing Fairy, Dorothea Helms, introduce you to the world of writing and its many exciting possibilities. If you are a closet writer or someone who dreams of following your passion for words, this is the course for you. Using humour and 21 years of experience as an award-winning professional writer, Dorothea will awaken the magic inside of you in a safe, comfortable environment. Hundreds have already benefited from this course; many have gone on to win writing contests, be published, start freelance businesses, and even develop their craft far enough to teach

6 Weeks – Wednesday, October 8th – November 12th, 1pm to 3pm $180


Ready to take your writing to the next level? The Writing Fairy, Dorothea Helms, is ready to help you soar. Learn to mine ideas from unlikely sources, take risks that will capture the attention of editors/publishers, and polish your writing to the professional level. Forget hand-holding; in this course, The Writing Fairy will provide the kick in the butt that will get your “butt in chair” to live out your writing dreams. Previous participation in a creative writing course is preferred; this is for writers who have advanced beyond the beginner stage. Oh, and it will be a lot of fun!
6 Weeks – Tuesday, September 16th – October 21st, 7pm to 9pm $180

 REGISTER NOW for either and/or both courses at www.blueheronbooks.com

This column appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Word Weaver.


The Writing Fairy® Eat My Dust Column

by Dorothea Helms

When it comes to freelance writing, a little lateral thinking goes a long way. Open your mind to out-of-the-box ideas, and you can come up with out-of-the-ordinary ways to boost your bottom line.

First, consider your writing. Is it as tight and creative as it could be? I’m a great believer in the concept that the more you write, the better you get – BUT you can stagnate if you never get out there and take a workshop or course. One of the most useful things I’ve done in my career is to attend workshops through the Editors’ Association of Canada.

What’s that? You don’t want to be an editor? Well fine – but what better way to find out how to please editors than to find out what they do? I learned so much about writing by being exposed to what editors look for, that I eventually became an editor. Who knew? Plus, EAC provides great food for lunch.

And how about marketing your work? Everyone thinks of magazines and newspapers – BUT I make most of my living writing other things. Have you ever approached your municipality to ask if the Communications Department farms out writing jobs to freelancers? Some may not have a department to handle things like brochures, newsletters, tourism guides, etc. Others may still opt to contract out some of their writing jobs because their staff is so busy.

Local businesses, ad agencies, public relations firms, businesspeople who need ghostwriters for speeches and columns – have yourself a good brainstorm and see how many avenues you might pursue to expand your business. A few years ago, I even got paid to write humorous fortune cookies for a business group. “If all you bring home is the bacon, you end up fried.” OK, it’s corny, but it’s a living.

No BUTS about it – there’s more to successful freelancing than creative writing. Creative marketing helps a lot. Get out there and pitch a variety of markets.

REMEMBER: “Entrepreneur who put all her eggs in one basket end up scrambling for business!”




Hey folks, I just got word from Perrett’s Comedy Services that the one-liner I entered into Gene Perrett’s “Words to Live By” contest took SECOND PLACE! I’m so pumped. I studied with Gene at a humour-writing contest in Broken Bow, Nebraska in the late 1990s. Learned a lot from him. This is one of the coolest things ever! THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my joke!

You can read the winners here: http://comedywritersroom.com/Index_files/Page757.htm